Thesis Revisions: Contextualization in AR History

Howard C. Westwood, “The Federals’ Cold Shoulder to Arkansas’ Powell Clayton,” Civil War History 26, no. 3 (1980): 240-255.

Here Westwood tells the story of Reconstruction after Arkansas was reintegrated into the Union and Federal forces were removed. Ku Klux Klan violence was rampant, and the first Republican governor Powell Clayton was forced by a lack of federal aid to resort to the use of a rag-tag, ill-disciplined volunteer militia to protect citizens from their midnight murdering sprees.

Westwood notes that the Klan’s activities were, relative to the other regions of the state, minor in the Northwest region. Martial law was only enacted there in a single county in 1868. (254)

Clayton decided to stay in Arkansas after he served as a general there during the war. Westwood claims that he was not much interested in politics until the era of congressional reconstruction, when he became an active Republican. He “strongly advocated the economic development of the state still so nearly primitive that the war had found it with less than forty miles of railroad.” (242) He seemed rather popular with Dems and Reps alike until the activities of his militiamen engendered distrust and hatred.

Carl H. Moneyhon, “The Creators of the New South in Arkansas: Industrial Boosterism, 1875-1885,” The Arkansas Historical Quarterly 55, no 4 (1996): 383-409.

Republicans ruled from 1867-1874, at which time–known as “Redemption”–the Democrats came back into power. Moneyhon argues that although one of their main objectives when ruling the state was to bring in industry and economic development, Reps, “aside from the railroads… achieved no long-lasting institutional changes that would have resulted in that objective.” Many saw the return of Dem rule as “an essential step for economic growth.” (388)

Moneyhon finds that most of the movers and shakers–the proponents of a new, industrialized Arkansas–came from elsewhere. Many were from northern states and had fought for the Union during the Civil War amongst a population that was primarily composed of ex-Confederates. (389-92)

Proponents of a New South economy stressed the need to diversify in a state that had primarily relied upon cotton production. (395)
This could include tourism, though Moneyhon doesn’t mention it. 

Recognized need to publicize Arkansas’ attributes; wanted a mining, manufacturing, and immigration bureau for marketing and the compilation of “hard information on the results of immigration–the numbers who arrived and their economic impact on local communities.” This had been formed under Rep govt in 1875 but was undermined by a lack of funding. (401)

Beverly Watkins, “Efforts to Encourage Immigration to Arkansas, 1865-1874,” The Arkansas Historical Quarterly 38, no. 1 (1979): 32-62.

Arkansas was decimated after the war, suffering from “a total disruption of the labor system.” (32)

Hoped to attract white settlers; thought immigration would help with labor shortage and would bring capital into the struggling state. “As suffrage was being given to all classes and races, he [author of editorial in Arkansas Gazette] felt that the state should invite immigration from Europe in order to maintain a ‘Caucasian majority.'” Also hoped more immigrants would help state economize on its many natural resources. (38)

Immigration was seen as a remedy, and people both Unionists and Confederates were hopeful for Arkansas’s future and writing just after the Civil War ended about its potential as a great place to invest and live. Watkins gives an example in Edward W. Grantt, who formed the Arkansas Immigrant Aid Society in 1865 “to encourage immigration and disseminate information about the state.” Powell Clayton and Dr. James A. Dibrell were both a part. They used pamphlets and booklets. (34-37)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s